Father tells daughter she shares blame for divorce

Published 8:12 am Friday, May 10, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: I am the 18-year-old daughter (and third child) of parents who are going through a divorce after being together for 36 years. I need your insight on this because I am unsure. 

My father has always craved physical love and affection, whereas my mom is more like a cat who prefers separation and independence. Even with these differences, things used to be good between them. That was until Mom decided she wanted to stop having sex due to her age and no longer enjoying it. (She also quit drinking, which he didn’t like.) 

My father was very upset with this and claimed it was abuse if she didn’t make love with him, since “that’s how people show love.” He also stated she should “be more fun” by drinking with him. Mom tried to keep the family at peace and be the person he wanted her to be for a few years, but finally decided she could no longer do it. He moved on very quickly – my father is already with another woman, even though he and Mom aren’t officially divorced yet.

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I’ve always taken my mom’s side, but this has caused my relationship with Dad to dwindle significantly. He claims I am part of the reason the divorce is happening, since I “make her feel like what she’s doing is OK.” Should I see his perspective as well? – TEEN OF DIVORCE IN CALIFORNIA


DEAR TEEN: That your father has dragged you into the marital difficulties between him and your mother is appalling. I believe it is a form of child abuse. The person whose perspective you should seek – and I am not saying this lightly – is a licensed psychotherapist, to discuss this entire matter. You are NOT the reason for your parents’ divorce. Their basic incompatibility and your father’s manipulative nature are the reasons. Please talk to your doctor about a referral NOW.


DEAR ABBY: Nine months ago, I started dating an older man. I’ve known him for 14 years. We live several hundred miles apart. He lost both of his parents recently. We used to talk and/or text all day long. Now I hear from him only if I reach out. He says I need to give him time to process his loss. As his partner, it feels like he has shut me out. Any time I mention my feelings, he says I’m acting out. I don’t know whether I should walk away or hang tight. Please advise. – SHUT OUT IN TEXAS


DEAR SHUT OUT: This man is absolutely right. He DOES need time to process the loss of his parents. This may strike you as humorous, but I couldn’t be more serious: Regardless of his age, your friend is now an orphan. 

You cannot make the situation better. He has been clear about that. Stop trying to insert yourself and let him regain his balance. Tell him you are there for him IF he needs you. Call every couple of WEEKS to check on him, but not more often. If what you have together is good, in time, things may improve for both of you. 


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


Good advice for everyone – teens to seniors – is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)